Victorian Riddle Rhymes

A type of rhymes very popular with children in the Victorian era was riddle rhymes, even though they could be quite difficult sometimes. I thought it’d be nice to post a few here so you can try and take a guess at them. If you think you have the answer to one or more of the riddles, post it/them in the comments, but don’t cheat and look at the solutions at the bottom of the post (unless you’ve given up, of course)!

Ready? Let’s get started then:

1) The cuckoo and the gowk, The laverock and the lark, The twire-snipe, the weather-bleak; How many birds is that?

2) Hoddy-doddy, With a round black body! Three feet and a wooden hat; What’s that?

3) Riddle me, riddle me, what is that Over the head and under the hat?

4) A flock of white sheep On a red hill; Here they go, there they go, Now they stand still!

5) I’ve seen you where you never was, And where you ne’er will be; And yet you in that very same place May still be seen by me.

6) I had a little sister, They called her Pretty Peep; She wades in the waters, Deep, deep, deep! She climbs up the mountains, High, high, high; My poor little sister, She has but one eye.

7) Black within, and red without, Four corners round about.

8) Of flesh and blood sprung am I ever; But blood in me that find ye never. Many great lords bear me proudly, With sharp knives cutting me loudly. Many I’ve graced right honorably: Rich ones many I’ve humble made; Many within their grave I’ve laid!

1) Three, for the second name in each line is a synonyme. The cuckoo is called a gowk in the North of England; the lark, a laverock; and the twire-snipe and weather-bleak, or weather-bleater, are the same birds.
2) An iron pot. In the country, an iron pot with three legs, and a wooden cover, the latter raised or put on by means of a peg at the top, is used for suspending over a fire, or to place on the hearth with a wood fire.
3) Hair.
4) The teeth and gums.
5) The reflection of a face in a looking-glass.
6) A star.
7) A chimney.
8). A pen.

How many have you guessed correctly?

Further reading:
Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *